It can be an anxiety-ridding task to find qualified contractors that are prepared to work on one of the largest investments you'll ever own, your house. As a homeowner, your job is to ensure that the contractor you hire will satisfy three needs; They need to offer low risk of damage, high ownership of liability if there is an accident, and adequate service quality for the price quoted. When talking to multiple contractors, you can easily lose sight of these three goals and focus solely on the project budget. So we thought we'd help. Here are 8 tips on how to properly qualify a home contractor.
1. Correct licensing
Every state has its laws on which licenses a business is required to have. Many states require contractors to have additional certifications and licenses to perform their work. Washington state requires us and any other pressure washing companies To have a specialty contractors license in addition to the state business license. Ask the qualifying contractors that you were getting a bit from which licenses they have. Compare their licenses with a little bit of research on what is required from your state.
2. Bonding and insurance
To be a contractor, you must carry a certain amount of insurance. Again, for Washington state, general contractors must carry a $1,000,000 policy for general liability and hold a $6,000 bond with the state. A contractor should be able to make their insurance certificate readily available for their customers. If you choose to hire an individual that is not bonded or insured, that means you are carrying the full risk of any damages done to your home.
3. Quality Social Proof
The next one simple. Check out Google, Facebook, Yelp, HomeAdvisor, and other resources for reviews on the company. The number of overviews Will indicate how long they have been in business. And the quality of the reviews will give you an idea of how satisfied the customer was with their service. Other social proofs include a good website and active social media.
4. Qualify as an expert
When you're talking with your contractor for the first time, ask many questions. Ask questions about their processes, their materials, their certifications, or any other relevant topic that comes to mind. This step aims to qualify that the contractor you're speaking with is an expert in their field. They should be eager to educate you on their process and break down the scope of work.
5. Get a date commitment.
One of the most frustrating complaints that we've heard from clients that other contractors have burned is that they never show up. This is a huge inconvenience in the consumer's life as you may need to take time off work to be at home, or you may have made plans around the project's completion. To prevent this:
Have the contractor put the service date(s) in writing and included it in the quote.
Ask questions as to what circumstances could cause that date to change (like weather).
Ask about their track record with keeping previous appointments.
6. Understand what can change the estimate
Another fear with many homeowners is that they will be quoted one thing, and the final cost will be dramatically higher. Or that the contractor will require carte blanche and send the budget to the moon. Get an estimate in writing and ask what factors can change the estimate from the final cost. If you understand these factors, you can greatly minimize the chances of being blindsided by a hefty bill.
7. Don't be guided on just price.
One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make is by guiding their contractor choice primarily off the price. While there are definitely contractors that add heavy markups to labor and materials, the majority are simply pricing their services at a premium to afford better training and equipment to perform better work. Also, some work is seasonal, and those downtimes are usually factored in the in-season price. Lastly, most contractors are just hard-working guys or gals looking to provide a simple middle-class life for their families. This includes the cost of living, retirement, and health insurance. These items are not cheap, and we have to expenses for a business owner. While the lower price guy may seem extremely enticing, they rarely have the breadth of experience or equipment to finish the job quickly, safely, and to the homeowner's satisfaction.
What are my favorite things to talk about with our customers is our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Many times, contractors want to be paid for the attempt and not the completion of a project. Ask your contractor what kind of guarantees they offer. Are they willing to keep working until you are delighted with a project?
Remember, you want to find someone you believe offers low risk to damage your home, well except ownership of the liability and the case there is an accident, and provide good quality service at a reasonable price. We hope these 8 tips help guide you to making a better decision when hiring your next contractor. Are there any steps that you feel like we missed? If so, drop them in the comments below. I would love to hear what you have to say!